WASHINGTON: Mellow was the mood as the dedicated followers of cannabis converged onto Heritage Park — a modest chunk of field in the shadows of the gilded dome of the Washington State Capital building — for the first day of the 10th Anniversary of Olympia Hempfest.
There will be many cannabis celebrations happening this summer, but it is important to remember that Olympia Hempfest was the first such event when it debuted a decade ago. These days, however, Olympia Hempfest is overshadowed by Seattle Hempfest — an hour north and three weeks away. While the Seattle festival expects to attract upwards of 100,000 attendees, a mere 2,500 will stop by Heritage Park this weekend.
For many of the Washington-based vendors and exhibitors, today and tomorrow serve as a dress rehearsal for “the largest hemp festival in the country” next month.
Still, there was plenty to see, eat and do. A giant stage offered speakers and live music, though the posted schedule was more suggestion than strictly adhered agenda. Many in attendance spread out blankets on the lawn to enjoy the weather, or strolled along the bench-lined waterfront path.
Hundreds in tee-shirts, shorts and bandanas browsed the dozens of exhibitor booths that ringed the waterfront park. Beneath green leaf-emblazoned banners and neat tables of symmetrically laid-out marijuana-related merchandise, grizzled vendors stood next to pierced-and-tattooed Kush Girls hawking their wares.
And while every manner of pipe, bong and beautifully-crafted glassware items were on display and for sale — you could not buy the herb itself at Olympia Hempfest. The voters of Washington State may have overwhelmingly passed a law legalizing recreational marijuana in November, 2012, but the Washington State Liquor Control Board won’t release final regulations until next month, and weed won’t be available in stores until sometime in 2014.
So instead, local political activists like Keith Henson, Director of the Pierce County chapter of NORML and Jared Allaway for Initiative 584, circulated petitions, recruited volunteers and solicited donations for the next phase of reform.
Entertainment included performances by The Herbivores, Troupe O WA belly dancers, Unhailoed, Corson Swift, C*F*A (Cody Foster Army).
Scheduled speakers included Jodie Emery, John Davis, Cat Jeter, Steve Phun, Jared Allaway, Kitty Miller, Vivian McPeak, Paul Stanford, John Parr, Brian Stone, Justin Kover, Gideon Israel, Joe Grumbine, Julia Peter McWilliams Tribute, Ed Saukkooja, Kristin Flor, Adam Assenburg, Jeremy Miller, Melissa Hysom and Sharon Whitson.